Monday, August 23, 2010

dalton highway...two

i think that is enough pictures for now. here we are road, pipeline and truck. that is how it was most of the trip. the pipeline is 800 miles long. i'm not good at remembering details but i have read stuff on signage that is posted on the lower sections that follow the richardson highway that leads down to valdez. the pipeline was engineered to withstand the enormous earthquakes that can happen all over alaska so i think that pipe can shift up to like 14 feet. it's also built to be able to withstand the changing temperatures due to permafrost. it used to flow much quicker down the pipeline and would reach valdez in a day, and the temperature would go from 140 F down to about 100 with the travels. now there is less oil being pumped and therefore it travels slower and the oil is colder by the time it reaches valdez. the pipes are about at the end of thier life expectancy and the oil is still coming so upgrades will be necessary. there are 6 pump stations. we passed several it seems, unimpressive, utilitarian places really. the haul road was built to supply the pipeline building and oil operation. it's named after william dalton, who was an arctic engineer. it's an impressive structure to say the least.
there are little access roads all along the route. here the pipeline goes underground. i believe close to half of the pipeline is underground. i think it's kinda free on those posts to allow the movement.
here we are lined up in the unassigned order.
we had to take some pipeline shots. i'm sure it's frowned upon, and possibly illegal. hmm...anyway, we got our pictures with the pipeline and then left it alone. i read a book awhile back called, "walking with my dog, jane". a writer got permission to walk the entire length of the pipeline with is dog and wrote a book about it. i should re-read it now that i've traveled the route myself to some degree.
i can't resist a few fun shots.
i remember the first time i saw the pipeline being surprised at how small it seemed. it's only 48 inch diameter.
despite it's odd place on the tundra the pipeline has a strange beauty and there is some comfort having it as your travel companion.

not sure why we stopped here but i was able to let blossom chase her tennis ball a bit again, stretch the old dog legs out a bit. since i've had hip pain in the recent past i wanted to stop frequently for me and the dogs. so far that strategy has been successful. i'm still doing okay. i really should get to the gym for my laps. day two pictures are getting a bit cumbersome and so i'll probably have to stretch it into another post. sorry for the mix and match, but oh well. the tale will be told regardless i guess.
our friend, the pipeline guides us north.
we all get out for a few while held up by road work. always a good time to visit. looks like sue, scott and jacqui and maria are getting in some yuks.
the line quickly grows behind us. the red gas cans and white thule are familiar sights for me.
as you can see, some cars and lots of trucks. can't imagine the maintenince required on those puppies driving this road all the time. i do have a new respect for the drivers of these rigs and the perils they face on this road daily. winter is it's own beast no doubt, but the summer dalton is no picnic either.
occasionally there are signs letting you know how far you have ahead of you. there are only a few spots to get gas and they are listed on this post. coldfoot to deadhorse is a long run. my tank was the smallest, but i think i got decent mileage. the two front cars just kept tabs of gas intake and then split the cost between the 5 of us. that amounted to $110.00 per person for the two cars. not sure how much it cost scott. the three drivers never changed and the order never changed....well, one time there was a mutiny. so many caribou and my car got passed for a photo op. it was never discussed, the order we fell into, it just happened. it was kinda funny to see the other cars line up and wait for me to take lead. there was some added stress being the lead dog, especially going through the atigun pass in the ice fog at 11 at night. i was constantly looking back and counting the two cars to make sure they were still there. it was my job to also be vigilant for truckers so we could all pull over in a safe location for them to pass us. safe for them and for us.
the jumble continues. here we are at joy, alaska. this is actually still on the elliot highway. near mile 50. cute and tiny town. it was homesteaded by joy griffin and her husband. she wrote a book called "home sweet homestead" about thier life there. according to the milepost, there are now about 30 folks living here...and half as many dogs. the cute store above was built by a huge family that lived in the area. apparently they had some 23 kids, mostly adopted. so many wonderful people in the world. i think they also wrote a few books as well. we enjoyed looking around the shop and community.
not sure what kind of birds these guys are. sorry, that is my lack of birding skills. just looked in the book i have as well and saw nothing familiar. i think it's more of an arctic species. maybe those haven't all made it into the birds of alaska book. thought the boot above looked cool with the flowers.
loved the store decor. very alaskana, not fake princess cruise alaska, real alaska.
love the sleds and the old cars and such.
that cargo space on the roof would be helpful.
many tires and hubcaps and such, probably collected over the years from the road itself. we just had the one tire incident. lucky. my car is funky though...we'll see what tomorrow brings.
i have gotten a few things done today between loading photo's. worked on the jungle in the backyard a bit, got the gas can off the top of hte car and the spare tire. i put the gas in the tank...seemed so odd to me. i've always gotten my gas from the stations. 5 gallons is heavy to hold up there as it loads as well.

we had a great morning drive out of fairbanks that day. the scenery was just spectacular. loved the artistic design of these various coloured trees.

i suspect this picture is from after coldfoot, what a muddy pit that was!! these next shots get jumbled and i believe i'll skip the finger mountain for the moment and give it another slot. we had rain and sun mixed through the region between the yukon river and coldfoot. sometimes the rain was falling quite heavily. the car no doubt picked up a little extra mud.
the yukon river is at mile 56 and coldfoot is at 175 so obviously these are mixed up. apologies. difficult to deal with time frames and two different cameras. this is the signage for coldfoot. i guess it started out as a mining camp and later was a vital place during the road/pipeline construction. it's still a huge truckers haven. though to look at it, it's a dump. the state troopers are here, though i never saw any sign of state troopers after we left fairbanks. we got there after an especially heavy rain so it was just one big mud pit to us. there is a little post office and i noticed in the eatery that there were notes posted to truckers and a list of names of folks with mail waiting for them. i guess it's the northernmost truckstop. the food is good there and there was a section with a big table that said truckers only.
every building north of the yukon river seems to be modular. ease of transport. these are modular living quarters. i know you can shower here for 14 bucks and i'm sure you can stay at the "hotel" for a mere $200 or thereabouts. seems pricey but i'm sure in the crappiest of weather it looks quite attractive. i've heard tales of strange odors in the rooms.
we made a choice at this local to drive on. we were at a road construction site waiting for the pilot car. the girl seemed to have loads of information there and we believed her. not sure it was the best advice ever. we could have been very comfortable at the marion campground there, which is quite nice. instead we opted to drive on to gailbreath campground. at mile 275. it was about 8pm i think and that meant doing atigun pass and driving another 100 miles. after the horrific ice fog experience on the atigun we were all rattled. the rain poured down and the road to gailbraith campground was pocked with humongous pot holes. at nearly midnight none of us wanted to drive the 3 miles past hte little airport there for that. we ended up backtracking a bit and setting up the tents between the cars in a driving rain.
we tied the tent down to the car rims. it was crazy and we were all beat. i slept like a lamb from exhaustion.
gas was mostly around this price, at deadhorse i paid $4.55/gal.
above is the yukon river. i think we got a glimpse of denali coming back, but never got a picture and i'm not sure. another pricey motel. we stopped at the visitors center. i guess there is one in coldfoot as well, but we must have skipped that both ways. oh well.
despite being warned by someone to fill up here we drove on to the hot spot to discovery there was no gas there and we had to backtrack here for gas. if there is a place to fill up, you best fill up.
back to coldfoot here. a truckers haven.
this is between yukon river camp and the hot spot.
this is sue running from the hot spot with news that there is no gas. the rain was coming down something awful at this point.
back at the yukon to get our gas. you park by the big tank, run your credit card to the shop/hotel/eatery and then pump and then run back to pay.
this is from earlier in the day. the clouds were spectacular.
more mud, more road, more pipeline.
the fireweed is maxed out..ready for fall. i guess we missed the height of the fireweed bloom by a week or so. i think we also missed the worst of the mosquito's by that much as well. i'd read that the mosquito's on the tundra can consume 1quart of blood from each caribou per week. the only place i remember being bothered by bugs was at the arctic circle sign.
i guess we actually sprayed ourselves at the marion camp site coming back too.
the gas pump in cold bay. scott and i are loaded and ready to make it to deadhorse. that is the next gas station.
just another picture of hte muddy truckers at coldfoot.
the arctic circle is just a sign in a rest area really. nice view. it's located at milepost 115. there are buses that bring folks up to this location so that people can get thier arctic circle certificates i guess. we all joked that soon the dalton will be paved and taken over by princess cruiselines. what a sad day that will be. anyway, above the arctic circle the sun doesn't set in the summer and doesn't rise in the winter. so above is the group shot. let see, maria, tanya (up), julie (down), sue, me and jacqui and scott. bailey and blossom, and who knows where rio is for this.
i had purchased my crossed the arctic circle bumper sticker in joy i believe and had to wait til i actually crossed over to place it on the yakima. we were in a quest for cool bumper stickers. tanya got a new thule so she wants to decorate hers as well. mine is getting a nice little collection going. thought it was a cute shot. the car doesn't look too bad here either.
here is my official arctic circle shot.
of course, i had to get the dogs thier own official shot as well. not many dogs have crossed the arctic circle and they should be recognized for this. hehe. i'm sure they were impressed by thier accomplishment!!
most of the drive all you could see was the wilderness, the road and the pipeline. there are no lights, few signs and rest area's decrease the further north you go. there are pretty much no rest areas between atigun pass and deadhorse and the trees go away as well. try finding a private place to pee on the tundra.
this is the back side or front side, depending on how you look at it, of sukakpak mountain. spoke to my sister and she saw some of the pictures on facebook. she thought the road didn't look too bad. of course, when the road was at it's rougher bits i was unable to take pictures as i drove the entire way. many pictures were taken out the windshield. you get too lazy to pull over every time as it's so beautiful. also there are lots of trucks using the road so it can be treacherous. parts of the road are paved, but as i found on the top of the world highway out of chicken the pavement is not always your friend. often it's old and broken up and has lots of pot holes and rough bits. also there were several times on day one where the rain pounded down on us and the mud was difficult to navigate as the ruts were more noticable. not to mention the various road projects and rocks large and small that were a constant threat. i tended to just pull over and stop as the big trucks passed and despite that i have some dings in my windsheild. should mention that many of the shoulders are soft and so there is little room for negotiation.
as you can see fall is coming on strong the further north you go. i love fall so enjoyed all the changing colours. we chased it north. i figured we drove over 1800 miles this week. pretty crazy. from anchorage to prudhoe bay is quite the stretch. felt like we just drove and drove. nobody even wanted to stop for lunches on the road. we all just snacked. this means all of the food we all so carefully prepared is still pretty much uneaten.
i think this next one was taken from the roof of the car. i'm sure there is a dent in there now. my big arse wasn't very forgiving. the car seems to have a shimmy when i get over 40 mph now. i was going to meet tanya for a walk today but it was really noticable today so i opted to skip it and stick closer to home again. the car is scheduled for a check up and oil change tomorrow. fingers crossed that it isn't something horrible and majorly expensive. also have to see if they can fix the part that is still duct taped together under the car. good thing i took a few days off of work after the drive.
we turned the corner after a long day of driving and came across this spectacular view. mile 204 i believe. it's sukakpak mountain. we stopped and took many photo's here. the pictures don't come close to the beauty of that moment. the light was just hitting that mountain perfectly. it was really quite breathtaking. since we had initally planned on staying in marion campground this night and opted to drive on it was our little reward. little did we know what lie ahead.
we each took turns getting our pictures at this spot. here i am in all my glory. i climbed up on the car even in an attempt to get the reflection in the little lake there. i didn't get quite high enough.
scott and tanya take in the view.
well, i must eat and feed the pups. sorry for the mixture of pictures but i do hope you enjoy the journey will me. i'll post more tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Loved all the photos & the story of your trip. So fun seeing all that. It is a whole other world up there. I can't believe how remote everything is that you have to take your own gas! Loved the last photo of Rio on the post below this too. So cute!!